Easy, Harmless Ways To Get Rid of Moss

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Coping Constructively With Mossy Madness

I always get a kick out of earnest magazine articles that explain how to create a mossy patina on clay pots. Evidently clean terracotta pots looks too obviously new and a mossy coat will give them an authentic, ancient English look. Well, the good news is that we Northwestern gardeners don’t need to mess with buttermilk or buy packets of pulverized moss starter. All we have to do is wait, and not very long. Before you know it, your pots will be mossy, and probably your house will be too.

If not actually mossy, our houses (and pots, and deck furniture) often accumulate a thin coating of pollen and mold, which has that authentic old English look as well. One way to deal with this is to paint buidings and outdoor furniture that same color. Indeed, my house is painted with Benjamin Moore Nantucket Grey, with Sussex Green trim, both of which are a pretty good match for the pollen/mold blend in my region. I discovered this by taking a piece of pollen-crusted wood to the paint store and matching it to paint chips. So simple!

A Kitchen Moss Remover

Of course, paint just hides the problem (and I’m fine with that). I find the very best way to reduce moss and mold presence is with plain old baking soda. Years ago, I used a home-made baking soda spray with a sticking agent that was great for cleaning up mossy furniture, decking, walkways and so on. A few years ago I learned that all you really need to do is sprinkle plain baking soda around. I’ve since tried it and sure enough, it works beautifully and surprisingly fast.

For the past few years, I’ve kept my north-facing roof moss free by sprinkling it with baking soda each summer. Recently I treated a very mossy stone walkway with baking soda and despite the cool, damp weather, the moss was all dead in a week. Here’s how it works: Sprinkle roofs, decks, furniture, and walkways generously with baking soda. Next, even out the coverage with a broom or brush. Let it stand for a few days, or until moss turns golden and starts to flake away. Scrub or scrape off moss and rinse away excess soda and you’re done until next year. This is effective with getting rid of the mold/pollen buildup as well.

Safe and Simple

The best aspect of this totally simple treatment is that, unlike most commercial moss killers, baking soda won’t harm garden plants, soil, or water. Dumping a whole bagful on a given plant won’t be helpful, but runoff from a roof or deck cleaning job won’t hurt anything.

I was also asked by a reader  whether he could safely collect rainwater off his roof if he used a toxic moss killer to keep the roof clean. The answer is no. Rainwater contaminated with zinc, iron or copper should not be used on edible plants and why not switch to basic old baking soda?

The Non-Metallic Answer

Moss killers based on zinc or copper create toxic runoff that can harm fish and aquatic life (as well as people, in high enough concentrations). Iron solutions are less toxic (though not entirely harmless) but they can permanently stain roof shingles, decks, siding, and lawn furniture, as well as concrete walkways.

Is it possible to prevent moss from invading lawns and garden beds in the first place? Well, this is the moss capital of the world, but there are some things that will help. Most important are to improve the amount of light and air circulation in the garden and to change soil from fungal to bacterial domination. That last is best accomplished by adding compost annually to beds and lawns to balance soil acidity and open up compacted soils. Have a skilled arborist prune trees to allow more light and air to reach shady areas. Finally, don’t over-plant tall shrubs and trees again!

Foliar Spray For Plants

Almost equally simple is this anti-fungicidal solution, which is effective against powdery mildew and molds on plant foliage. It’s also safe to use on edible plants (just rinse well as usual before eating them), and on lawns with red thread or fairy mushroom rings. in addition, this baking soda solution helps prevent early blight on tomatoes, a common problem in the maritime Northwest.

Baking Soda Solution For Plant Problems

1 tablespoon baking soda (any kind)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 gallon water
1/4 teaspoons mild castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or similar)

Thoroughly wet down affected foliage/lawn, then apply this milder version, shaking the spray container frequently to keep solution from separating. Spray foliage top and bottom (if applicable) or saturate well (lawns). Repeat weekly or as needed.

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147 Responses to Easy, Harmless Ways To Get Rid of Moss

  1. Wes says:

    Thank You! We moved to the great NW in Oct. & have been wondering what would be the best way to get rid of this concoction growing on everything :-).

    • Suzy says:

      I live in OR it rains a lot. What works in the rain?

      • Ann Lovejoy says:

        Baking soda works great, even in the rain, which washes it in nicely. I just re-did my front walkway, which gets mossy fast, since it’s in the shade. I have to sprinkle 2-3 times a year, but it works in summer and/or winter. Good luck!

        • Cynthia says:

          Thanks Ann! So pleased to find this conversation and I am sold on baking soda – I have about 500 sf of driveway to remove moss from. What’s the best way to track down a massive quantity of baking soda? I live on Bainbridge island. happy, moss-free new year everyone!

  2. Vanessa says:

    How about a grapefruit tree with moss, would i be able to use the same solution to help get rid of it and heal it back to health?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Vanessa,

      Well, no. Moss on trees is not always a sign of anything but age. Here in the maritime Northwest, even shrubs get mossy and it does them no harm. Given that you are growing grapefruit, I’m guessing you live someplace significantly warmer than my neck of the woods. If the “moss” in question is Spanish moss, it really isn’t moss, but is epiphytic, like orchids, plants that get nourishment from the air, not from the tree. You can remove it, but it will probably come back. It might be a good idea to have an arborist take a look at your tree, because very mossy trees are likely to be that way because of some underlying cause (age, disease, pest damage). Hope that helps!


  3. Mitzi says:

    I am curious what you used for the “sticking agent” in your spray method? I typically use a spreader sticker and in the past have just used mild soap. There is a place on my roof that I want to try this method and since the rain has more than had its fun already I don’t think the sprinkle method will work and it is a pretty high pitch to get to but I can spray it with a hose end sprayer. Thanks for all the other info.


    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Mitzi,

      Usually I just use an organic dish soap or liquid castile soap (plain Doctor Bronner’s) as a sticking agent. It works really well. Once I had nothing but lavender scented Dr. B’s and it even smelled delicious…


  4. Ted Thayer says:

    My old brick patio was covered with moss.

    I applied a solution of baking soda in water liberally with a broom. Let it set a few days and all the green moss turned brown/yellow which washed off with a good hosing.

    However, a black, slippery when wet, thin caking has remained on most (about 50%)of the patio bricks. No amount of hosing or sweeping removes it.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks, Ted Thayer

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Ted,

      I suspect the moss left some of its rootlets behind. Try scrubbing with more baking soda (dry-ish, but use a little water to make a paste), or you can try a mild bleach solution. Hope that helps!


  5. Beth Young says:

    Hi Ann,
    I really appreciate your post; you have always been my favorite garden writer. My homeowner’s insurance company (Progressive) just informed me that they are denying me coverage because they found moss on my roof. It’s not much but I guess they did a drive-by and my house faces the north. Anyway, I want to get it off asap and it is now Feb 12. Any suggestions for winter removal?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I’d still use baking soda, which I get in BIG bags from Costco. Even in winter, it can turn moss brown, and it will fall off as it dies. You will probably need to repeat the dose after each big rain (which is pretty often) if you do it at this time of year.

      If you get help (as I do; no roof work for me anymore!), be sure to work with folks who know how to climb around on a roof without damaging the shingles. I did have a crew carefully scrape off the moss by hand once (which cost a lot, and did not last very long), but have found that warm-weather applications of baking soda are less expensive and longer lasting. Sorry we can’t do much about the weather!


  6. Martin says:

    I’m just wondering does anyone know how to get rid of moss
    On a lawn in an environmentally friendly way, I have lots of moss on my lawn
    This year and it can be expensive to treat, especially when it comes back year after year.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Martin, try this:

      Foliar Spray For Plants

      This anti-fungicidal solution is effective against powdery mildew and molds on plant foliage. It’s also safe to use on edible plants (just rinse well as usual before eating them), and on lawns with moss, red thread or fairy mushroom rings. in addition, this baking soda solution helps prevent early blight on tomatoes, a common problem in the maritime Northwest.

      Baking Soda Solution For Plant Problems

      1 tablespoon baking soda (any kind)
      2 tablespoons canola oil
      1 gallon water
      1/4 teaspoons mild castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or similar)

      Thoroughly wet down affected foliage/lawn, then apply this milder version, shaking the spray container frequently to keep solution from separating. Spray foliage top and bottom (if applicable) or saturate well (lawns). Repeat weekly or as needed.

    • Paul says:

      To get rid of moss in a lawn.

      Fork it over with a good gardening fork. Use on your lawn, then add sharp sand coarse is best.This then are-ate IE the holes create ways to spread sharp sand into, this then is washed by rain in the lawn.

      But is suggest you do this each autumn, EACH year! Winter rain will so the rest.

      Also be careful with over hanging bushes, branches etc. These will cut out the light, so making moss spread.

  7. Rhonda says:

    I have increasing amount of moss in a lawn with fruit trees. Granted as the warmer weather comes I see more grass growing through it but wondered if the plant mixture you posted would be okay to use on the moss and the fruit trees? The PNW is known for its greenery…both good and bad! I have used tide powder on the roof and it did work but I think baking soda would be better. Thanks

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Rhonda,

      Yes indeed, baking soda would be far better to use on your roof than a detergent. It looks like you and Kim (see above) have similar issues, and the same reply is suitable for you too. Shady areas are not well suited to lawns, and trees of all kinds, fruiting or otherwise, do better without a grassy carpet. Consider replacing turf around the trees with a 3-foot circle of airy mulch, such as bedding straw. Moss on the trees themselves is not an issue; at least, not here in the Northwest, where moss is an important part of the ecosystem. Hope that helps!

  8. Liz says:

    Your article had me chuckling. Thanks for the tips.

  9. kim says:

    I was wondering if the baking soda will hurt my raspberry plants ,as this year there is alot that appeared on the ground at the base of the plants. Also can I put baking soda on the lawn to kill the moss in it too.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Kim,

      Since baking soda has been used for decades as a natural fungicide in many organic sprays for all sorts of woodies, including fruit trees and rose bushes, I don’t see how it could do any harm to raspberries (rose family, after all). However, rather than dumping a lot of baking soda around your raspberry plant I’d do a few other things first. Are they in a lot of shade? It might be best to prepare them a new home in a sunnier spot and move them there in the fall. If not, perhaps the soil is fungally dominated (common where woody plants have grown for a long time. Try removing the moss with a hand rake, then spraying the soil with a bacterially dominated compost tea, and/or adding several inches of mature compost around each plant. The improved aeration and biodiversity should improve the soil and also give the plants’ roots a boost.

      As for the lawn, yes, you can again rake away moss and rake in some baking soda, but again, underlying issues may need addressing. If the lawn area is shady, rake in compost and oversow with a shade tolerant turf seed blend, or consider making a mossy shade garden instead of having a mossy lawn.

  10. Mary says:

    What can I use to get rid of the moss in my yard. Front and back is full of moss and my dogs like to try to eat it. they are always digging it up and chewing on it. I need to know what I can use that will kill the moss and not harm the dogs.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Mary,

      Unfortunately, baking soda is toxic for dogs, so I suggest turning your mossy lawn into a mossy fern garden instead. Moss thrives in shade and in soils that are fungally dominated, places where woody plants (trees and shrubs) grow or have grown in the recent past. When moss persists in full sun, that is often the reason. If your lawn area is sunny, find a source for compost tea and/or spread several inches of compost over the entire area. That will help alter the soil, bringing it closer to bacterial dominance (which grasses and perennials prefer) and also making it less acid and closer to neutral. Hope that helps!

      • Tyler says:

        I have a summer home and am grateful for the moss lawn because I only have to mow once or twice a year. If moss can co-exist then I say let it be.
        Moss on the roof is different though, that can result in ceiling leakage issues.

        • Ann Lovejoy says:

          Insurance adjusters do not like to see moss on roofs, so keeping them clean boosts your home value as well.

      • Rycke says:

        If dogs are eating moss, you might take a hard look at their diet. I have seen dogs dig and eat worms, but never eating moss.

  11. Irene Vale says:

    Ann, I have also found that a plastic frosting container with holes punched in the top is a great way to apply baking soda. You just have to squeeze the container to blow a dusting onto the soil. I was so excited to find that baking soda is great for killing the leafy pest (I think they are liverworts) that are often found on the top of the soil of purchased plants. This green growth spreads like wild fire by spores and will cover your beds and grass! I am going to try your solution for easier coverage. Thanks for the tips!!!

  12. Weezer says:

    Being a Seattleite I certainly have a problem with moss. During winter it grows on the North side of my body. So I took your advise. I rubbed baking soda into the moss. Sure enough, after two days it simply washed off in the shower.

  13. Darcy says:

    Thanks for the advice. I have a problem with moss growing on my patio. Can’t wait to try the baking soda on it. I have a question though. I just got a hydrangea. I know they like acidic soil, and you stated that baking soda is good for them. Baking soda is alkaline so why is it good for hydrangeas?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Darcy, as I explained to the Nelsons, I said it wrong. However, you CAN use baking soda on hydrangea foliage if it gets mildew or mold, AND if you want them to have pink flowers instead of blue ones, you can dump some baking soda around the roots every few weeks from spring into summer.

  14. Norm & Marge Nelson says:

    I thought baking soda was “not” acidic, but you say it is good for acid loving plants such as blueberries. Did I read this wrong?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      No, you read it right, I said it wrong. What I should have said is that you can safely spray the baking soda solution on everything from roses to blueberries to clear up many foliage disorders, like molds and mildews. In fact, baking soda is not acidic but alkaline, and is sometimes used for neutralizing acidic soils (as when people want pink hydrangeas instead of blue ones). Good catch!

  15. Patti Chabot says:

    I am writing to you on behalf of the South Surrey Garden Club from just north of you in Canada. We have hired a bus to bring 40 people to the Kitsap Pennisula on August 5 and 6th of this summer to see the gardens of your area. Dan Hinkley is hosting us as well as Heronswood. Ideally we would like to visit one more private garden in the afternoon around 2-3pm. I think you garden in this area and am respectfully asking if you ever show your garden? If so, is there any possibility of visiting on the 6th of August?
    I would also appreciate any information on your area of interest to a group of avid gardeners.

    Patti Chabot 1-604-535-5926
    Past Program Chair
    South Surrey Garden Club.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Patti,

      Well, it sounds like you are going to have a lovely trip. I would suggest that you visit the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. If you want to see may gardens, you can tour the Bainbridge Island Public Library grounds, where I’ve been gardening with the Friday Tidy volunteers for over 17 years, as well as the Waypoint, the island’s newest park by the ferry dock, where I recently installed about 5,000 plants, including many interesting natives. Hope that helps!


  16. Judy says:

    I just noticed after yesterday’s rain the surface of the soil around the vegetables in my garden is very deep green. Is this the beginning of moss growth? (I did have moss growing there last year, but when I did my soil test it tested alkaline?? Maybe I did it wrong?) Would a baking soda sprinkling remedy this without hurting my vegetables? Should I mix it with water and sprinkle over all, rather than a powder shake? I would love some advice!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Judy. Hmmm. The soil itself is green, or something growing in the soil is green? I would suggest that you take a picture and show it to your local nursery folks and see ht they say. Another good place to get an idea about what’s going on is your local agricultural extension agent. You can also check with your local county government to find out when and where you might find a Master Gardener clinic. Without a better idea of what you’ve got going, I would not do anything except perhaps use a hand cultivator to stir up the top few inches of soil and add some mature compost. Good luck!


  17. jinny says:

    How long does the baking soda remain a toxic problem for dogs if sprinkled on paths and areas of yard they roam in—- and is it toxic for cats as well? Once the dead moss has been cleaned up or raked up, is there a residue of baking soda that will still affect them?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Jinny,

      If you wet the baking soda and really hose it down, it can be “soaked in” and once it is no longer visible, it won’t be a problem. It’s when the baking soda is lying about that dogs can lick it and get into trouble. A tiny bit is not a problem, but when it amounts to a cupful or so, that’s when baking soda can be dangerous (for people, too). As for cats, they are also sensitive,but would need to eat a lot–around a cupful–before being fatally poisoned. Again, a little exposure is not a problem–it’s in lots of cat litters, for instance–but nobody should be eating the stuff straight. Hope that helps!

  18. Ted Buila says:

    Hi: Moss Jubilee in my raised (8×25′ well composed/friable) garlic beds. Ok, I know that hands-kneesstretching-in/hand weeding is good exercise. I’m not all that opposed to hand “editing.” But…aside from liming-up and a bit of iron sulfate (pre-plant tilling-in + a light top dressing (our Oct-Nov light rain here on the Hood Canal does a nice job “pushing” it in) what in the dickens is out there that will do a fair-to-good job of keeping moss under control..and especially next Apr-June…and won’t whack us in the process? (Ie) is Costco baking soda (dry/wet) “it?” If so, how often and when? Your best call. PS: Outside tomatoes showed color in July this year. Nice. Begonias and fuchsias are holding on..also nice.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Some nursery growers swear by top mulching with fine limestone chips or grit, which slowly amends soil pH wile also making a less hospitable environment for mosses. You certainly might try scattering a thin (maybe quarter inch) layer of grit over the bed, after raking off as much moss as you can. I’m wondering if the bed is shady or sunny? If shady, well, hmm, not such a great place for garlic. If sunny, it’s very possible that the soil is still very fungally dominated (common where trees and shrubs dominate a landscape). Even when the trees are gone, that fungal dominance remains, encouraging mosses, ferns, etc. One great way to coax more bacterial dominance is to sheet much with compost twice a yer, fall and spring. I’d still top mulch with limestone grit, though…hope that helps.
      PS I’ve still got begonias and coleus in a sheltered spot!

  19. dorothy says:

    The answers given for using baking soda on moss have an error; baking soda is alkaline, not acidic.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Yes, baking soda is alkaline, and the amounts used to clean off rooftops and sidewalks won’t hurt plants and even help make soils a little closer to a neutral pH (which most edibles and many ornamentals prefer).

  20. Ted Buila says:

    Ann sorry for the long delay in responding. All the beds are full-day sunny. As for compost ‘adds’ every 2 years..a good couple of inches tilled-in. Last fall I followed your baking soda suggestion with mixed results so far. Given that I mowed the yard yesterday I’m guessing the moss must think it’s the end of March..the garlic certainly does. I’m thinking that ferrous sulphate (dry ) broadcasted might also? make life miserable for moss. Make sense or not?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Ted,

      I suggest NOT tilling in compost but simply layering it, half an inch or so at a time, over turf, and more generously on beds (2-4 inches). In truth, both baking soda and iron sulphate are short acting and will only discourage moss briefly unless the underlying issues are resolved. Sometimes these are excess shade and fungally dominated soils, sometimes it’s poor soil health and low humus content, and so on. In any case, to rid lawns of moss, it works best to be positively proactive; in sunny areas, work on healing the soil and the grass will outgrow the moss. Turf grasses greatly appreciate an inch of compost raked in each year, half in spring, half in fall, which can also eliminate red thread and thatch build up. Hope that helps!

  21. Cathy says:

    Thank you so much for this information Ann. I spent all day Sunday clearing moss an huge mats of liverwort (hate that!) from my rockery, and am determined to do something to make the soil there less hospitable to moss. So happy I found this posting.

  22. Paige says:

    Another SAFE choice is to use Tide Powder Detergent. Spread liberally and the moss dies within an hour… not a week. It’s safe for animals and the environment, and washes away easily.

  23. sheila says:

    Hi Ann,

    I wonder if you could tell me if baking soda is bad for – or toxic – to chickens. I have my little chicken “helpers” in the garden with me while I weed, scratch around, etc. If so, I will have to block them from the garden.

    Thank you.

  24. Julia Matcham says:

    Will baking soda also kill everything in the intervals between bricks on the patio? These spaces serve as a nursery for my baby foxgloves and poppies so I wants something that kills the moss but doesn’t poison the rest of the earth in betwèen. Any hope there?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Julia,

      Well, sorry, but no; baking soda is as undiscriminating as any other moss killer. You might try simply filling in the cracks with compost each spring and fall, since moss does better in acid soil than in pH neutral compost. Worth a try?

  25. Shari says:

    Great information! I read the warnings on the commercial moss remover and decided to look for a healthy alternative. Now I’ve got two! One for our ground moss & one I can use to spray my roses with. Thank You so much Ann!

  26. Jack says:

    Deck on north side of house. I have a very small fairly new deck that covers up a cement stoop with about 4 steps. It is made with pressurized lumber, and ONE of the planks right in the center of the deck, from end to end, has a mold or algae problem, green anyway, with moss between cracks. I have scrubbed with bleach, with H2O2, used a pressure washer and removed surface moss, but there are still streaks of green throughout the plank. I had coated the deck annually with a transparent deck finish. Is that hindering the cleaning? Should I sand that one plank? Or try something else?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I think I’d sand it then try the bleach again before using a safe penetrating oil and stain. Sometimes one piece of wood is softer than the rest and gets moldier. Hope that helps.

  27. Rycke says:

    I have been using vinegar with dish soap added, but it doesn’t kill moss when it is dormant in the summer, and doesn’t soak in to soaked moss in the winter, so I have to catch a few days of dry weather to kill it before I can clean it off. I will try the baking soda dry on the wet moss.

  28. John Miller says:

    Thanks so much for this information. None of the places I checked had any of this information. They just want to sell you their product which is as bad as the moss itself. I have been dealing with this moss problem for several years now. I did not want to use those toxic moss killers and have been cleaning it off by hand. Which is labor intensive and doesn’t really kill the beast. So I can’t wait to get started with this treatment. However, it is winter now so I will have to do the winter treatment thing. Hopefully, it will kill some of it off and leave an easier job for next year.

  29. Hiram Krzan says:

    Yeah, it’s pretty sad. But I’m looking forward to leaving behind the negatives, for sure.

  30. Cindi says:

    I have lots of moss between my prickly pear cautus. Will baking soda harm the plants?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I couldn’t find anything that suggests it would be harmful, but I’d suggest that there is an underlying cause (perhaps excess shade, or former shade, or lingering tree roots) that might be part of the problem. Try scraping off the moss and spreading mature compost first, I’d guess. Hope that helps!

  31. I like the idea of using chemicals such as baking soda to help with the removal. I think that the moss on my home is a little bit thick for just the soda, but I’ll have to look at using this along with pressure washing. Thanks for the post!

  32. David says:

    Baking soda changes the ph of the roof and as a result the moss will die off.

  33. Carin Anema says:

    Hi Ann,
    Can you give me the formula for making a spray using baking soda and the sticking agent to clean my roof. I don’t think I will be able to just sprinkle baking soda on it. I will need to spray it on. What would the ratio be for water to baking soda to sticking agent? Thanks! Carin

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Sure, it was in the original post: Baking Soda Solution For Plant Problems

      1 tablespoon baking soda (any kind)
      2 tablespoons canola oil
      1 gallon water
      1/4 teaspoons mild castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or similar)

      Thoroughly wet down affected foliage/lawn, then apply this milder version, shaking the spray container frequently to keep solution from separating. Spray foliage top and bottom (if applicable) or saturate well (lawns). Repeat weekly or as needed.

  34. Jackie says:

    My back yard is against a green belt and we do have lots of trees, which we can’t take down. The lawn is mostly all moss now and it continues to come into my garden bed with shade plants. It looks terrible and there is nothing I can do but rake it out every spring. Is there anything I can do to keep it from coming back into to my flowers?? It really does smother some plants, killing them. What can I do??

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Jackie, Well, I suggest visiting some beautiful shade gardens that might include a moss garden, such as the one at Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. If you can’t have a turf lawn (and it sounds like your conditions are not conducive), then your best bet is to learn to garden with moss, which is considered very beautiful in many gardening traditions. I am willing to bet that rather than moss killing plants, plants were out-competed by the trees. Thus, I’d suggest finding a nearby nursery (not a box store that sells plants, a real plant nursery where skillful folks can help you find plants that can succeed in the conditions you can offer). I also suggest adding an inch or more of compost every spring and fall to the garden area, which you will find soil-improving and therefore plant-health-improving as well. Good luck!

  35. Wei says:

    Hi Ann,
    Thank you for a non-toxic alternative!!

    Would it be possible for me to email you a few pics of our yard to get your opinion on what to do to get it in shape? It’s ridden with moss, and I understand after reading your responses to other comments that there’s an underlying issue. We’re new homeowners in Puyallup and my hubby wants to rent a dethatcher next weekend, but I read that it could cause more harm than good. We’ve not done fertilizer (don’t know what’s non-toxic and couldn’t find anything on ewg) or weed/feed, no idea what organic mulch is good… just have lots of questions and a tiny yard and a cat that likes to nibble outside. Figured submitting pics so you could see the condition of the lawn would help.

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Wei,

      I don’t need pictures, but here’s the best way to heal your lawn. If it is shady, you’ll need to work a lot harder. If sunny, cover the grass with half an inch or so of compost and over-sow with a Northwest grass blend (Watson’s will have some). Next, ask the wise and skillful folks at Watson’s for advice on how to have a toxin-free lawn and they can guide you step by step. Best of luck! Here’s a link: http://watsonsgreenhouse.com/


      • Wei Lima says:

        Thanks. Is there a reason to not just sprinkle moss in lawn with straight baking soda or baking soda and water? Does the oil or soap do something? And is it ok to wait for a rain before spraying?

        • Ann Lovejoy says:

          You can certainly sprinkle baking soda directly on a lawn, after a rain is fine. The sticking agents are best when spraying on perennial or shrub foliage or hard surfaces. Hope that helps!

        • Carolynn says:

          i know this is an old post, but thought I would answer the part of your question that I know but I don’t believe you got an answer.
          I do know that you put dish soap in the mix because it makes it stick to whatever you are spraying, hope that helps. It really helped me in knowing that little bit.
          But by now, you may already know that.
          Thx, Carolynn

  36. bobby says:

    I also not sure where to begin to get rid of moss in the yard, in areas it’s in patches, just bought the house, like if I sprinkle baking soda over the whole yard, it will kill the moss, not the grass right, then should I should fertilize and if I plant seeds will the grass grow on top around the dead moss, I don’t have to dig up the moss cause if I do there will be nothing but a bunch bare spots I would appreciate a little clearer instructions on what steps to do thank you so much

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      See related post for 4/18/2013 on restorative lawn care for a lot more information. Hope that helps!

  37. CHRIS GRAVEN says:

    We have a clay court tennis club, and the mesh wind screens around the courts have green moss patches spreading through them. Not visually attractive, and makes it hard to see through the screens as well. We are environmentally conscious, and are not having any luck with vinegar or a natural liquid detergent, put on with a sponge.

    Also, clay courts are notorious for growing algae in the clay, and ours are no exception. (The courts are watered underground and we don’t want to use the commercial products recommended to put in the water. We spray with mild liquid detergent, which seems to clean the surface and looks better, but does little to deter the algae. Any ideas?

    Thanks so much for your willingness to help people!


    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      You might try removing the nets once or twice a year and soaking them in a baking soda and water solution, then drying in full sun. Or use a stiff brush (not wire, which could damage the net) to brush away the moss, then spray on a solution of diluted baking soda. To keep your clay courts clean, try a diluted bleach and water solution (try it on a small patch first to make sure it doesn’t discolor or stain the clay). Hope that helps!

  38. Suneesh Kadalayil says:

    How to remove green moss from open well using for drinking water

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I suggest removing moss by hand from an open well that’s used for drinking. Carefully scrape away the moss, brushing backwards to keep it out of the well. Clean the well edging with plain water, rinsing backwards again to keep from contaminating the well itself. If the well is mossy because it’s in the shade, see if you can prune away the overhanging branches to allow more light to reach the well, and for better air circulation. Try to keep the lip clean and dry. Hope that helps!

  39. jessa mae m. linhower says:

    thanks ann lovejoy but is moss helpful to the environment?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Jessa Mae, Yes, Mosses are valuable indeed, thriving where many other plants can’t. Mosses are native to many kinds of environment and like any other plant, they form part of the plant food web, providing fodder for deer and other critters, producing oxygen and taking in carbon dioxide in life, enriching soils as they decay. Here in the maritime Northwest, they get a bad rap for “harming” lawns, but lawns are really out of place in this part of the world, while moss gardens flourish.

  40. Diane says:

    I have roses that look moldy.the people next door rinse their dogs business with water and my house sits a little lower than theirs.well yes it does run down hill.can that be the problem or do I have another issue? And what can I do to fix it? I used to have full bushes of beautiful roses now very few bloom.not sure if I’m trimming them right or at right time of year.please help.thank you

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Are the roses in more shade now? They prefer full sun and very good, well enriched soil. I suspect that any “dog business” that comes their way would be perceived by roses as fertilizer, but possible issues include lack of sun, lack of good air circulation, improper pruning, and poor nutrition. You’ll find good books on basic rose care at your local library and there may even be Master Gardener clinics nearby where you’d get specific local information as well. Good luck!

  41. Jeannie E says:

    I just read your entire post about baking soda and using it to deter moss on the roof. Ever so helpful! Thank you so much. I live in the Willamette valley. I catch all my rainwater and water all the garden with it, so I didn’t want to use anything harmful!
    Could you give me an estimate of what sprinkle “generously” means. I have about 500
    square feet of north-facing composite rooftop. Moss is moderately out of control. I am not sure how much I might need per application – would appreciate an estimate.

    PS Please don’t add me to any mailing lists. And I wish you well in your endeavors and downsizing!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Jeannie,

      No worries, I don’t have any mailing lists! As for sprinkling generously, on walkways and decks, sprinkle enough that it looks like a light snowfall. On rooftops, spread baking soda in horizontal bands about 6 inches wide and a few feet apart; rain will wash it down and kill ff the moss as it does so. To keep it off, I treat my north-facing roof twice a year, and I’ve removed all the overhanging trees that actually touched or came close to the roof as well.

  42. I have a brick retaining wall grass above an flowers an bushes below dont want to harm any of it what should I use. Lots of moss on wall. thanks

  43. Ann Lovejoy says:

    Baking soda shouldn’t stain it but try some on a small area first to make sure

  44. Sandra Shadrach says:

    We live in the South of France, and you would think that our warm sunny winters would mean moss was not an issue. However, our neighbours have left the hedges to grow far too high (another issue…) and our north facing rose bed fills up with a strong large leaved moss each winter.

    We do get a lot of heavy rain and this bed also gets water from the roof.

    I have just sprinkled a patch of 1cm deep moss with what I had in the store cupboard in the way of Baking Soda, as a trial patch to see how this works. In the future, what do you recommend to stop this happening NEXT winter?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      How do the roses do? I’d expect them to prefer a south facing bed, so I think I’d be tempted to re-position the roses and turn that north facing bed into a shade garden, rich with hellebores, ferns, small hydrangeas and toad lilies….

  45. Susan says:

    Can moss that is growing in a bare area (completely shaded by trees and large roots breaking ground) spread to a hip-high raised bed, 30 feet away and upwind?? I think my problem was that I have added too much bagged manure from the store (a bag per year for 3 years) to the raised bed. This spring the top was covered in moss, the soil is so soggy and dense. We have had a lot of rain, but the raised bed is normally well drained. I have bought two 50# bags of course masonry sand to add but will hold off until I destroy the moss with baking soda. The bed is 4′ x 8′ x 9″ of dirt in it (does not come to the top of the boards). My oldest son suggested adding earthworms…

    Do you think this will work or am I missing something? Thanks for your help, Ann Lovejoy.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Susan
      If your soil is ok, the worms should come on their own. Not sure what’s going on but suspect that the soil in the second bed needs to be opened up a bit. This very rainy winter created “shade” conditions of almost perpetually grey skies so moss could be encouraged (the spores are everywhere). Not sure I’d add sand if your soil is clay based (tends to make adobe). Instead, try forking over the bed lightly (just stick your fork in as deeply as you can every few inches to aerate), then removing the top few inches (put them in your hot compost) and replacing them with mature compost. You don’t say if it’s shaded (if the walls are hip high and the soil only comes up 9 inches it might be shaded by the walls) but if shaded some moss is almost inevitable. Compost and aeration should help but I’m not sure what you’re growing there; many plants want more soil depth than that so filling the bed with a good garden soil might be beneficial.

  46. Chris Friedrich says:

    I have a whole hillside of vinca behind a garage that is now filled with moss around the vinca plants and I believe it is killing off the plants or crowding them out. Can I sprinkle the baking soda over the vinca bed to get rid of the moss?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Chris
      Pretty hard to kill off vinca and I’d be surprised if the moss were actually at fault. More likely is that our soil is heavy and sour and there’s a lot of shade (or possibly trees were removed from the area at some point and the soil is still fungally dominated). You can certainly sprinkle on baking soda, then I’d suggest mulching with several inches of a mixture of fine wood chips and compost to open the soil and improve the drainage. The vinca is a very strong spreader and should come back fine.

  47. Barbara says:

    Could you use the baking soda on a lawn in a fertiler spreader?

  48. Tracy Leigh says:

    Thanks so much Ann for sharing your knowledge with us!

    Two years ago I had a small area with moss. After using a power washer on the length of my long brick pathway through flower beds and lawn the moss came back with a vengeance and also moved aggressively into my lawn.
    In regards to the brick I have been able to kill a lot of moss which has become brown and yellow ( but more seems to grow around the dead spots) The bricks are in about 80% sun for 3/4 of day. However, no amount of scrubbing wet or dry with wire brush (not a good idea messes up brick) or scrub brush with variety of solutions/pastes will remove the black slimy remains.
    I have tried to no avail the suggestions you gave Ted Thayer in his October 7, 2013 post. See below.
    In addition to looking awful it is quite dangerous. I am so frustrated.

    I am also pruning trees, opening up shrubs and I’m on my way to buy good compost to cover my lawn.. Ugh.
    Any input is greatly appreciated!

    Your suggestion here:
    I suspect the moss left some of its rootlets behind. Try scrubbing with more baking soda (dry-ish, but use a little water to make a paste), or you can try a mild bleach solution. Hope that helps!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Tracy
      Well, all I can tell you is that baking soda definitely kills the moss on my shady north facing pathway, though the tendrils have certainly infiltrated the stones. I simply re-treat the surfaces a few times each winter, as the conditions are so perfect for moss that it will move in even if I managed to kill off the original plants. The roof only needs treating once a year or every other year, depending on how wet and grey the winter was (this year was pretty dark and damp, but we treated the roof in late fall and it still looks good, according to my very recent house inspection!).
      Anything you can do to change the conditions will help; your idea of pruning to let in more light and increase air circulation is excellent, and adding compost to the lawn (just rake some in once a year) will also help the grass outgrow the moss in time, though in shady situations, even shade tolerant grass can get overwhelmed. That’s when the moss garden idea starts looking good…

      • Tracy says:

        Thanks for the reply. I’ve been traveling and just getting caught up.
        Today I power washed the brick pathway and concrete patio area with nothing but water and pressure. I removed a lot of sand between bricks as a consequence.
        Is there anything or any product that I can use to slow or inhibit future growth?
        Would you please describe in detail how you treat your walkway with baking soda? How much (example please) wet /dry? does this keep it from growing back?
        Thanks so much for your time 🙂

  49. Deon Naylor says:

    Hi Ann, I don’t know how long ago you post this ad but I have a problem, I live in Australia Melbourne and at the moment we’re about to come into winter, we have a saying down here, we say that Melbourne has 4 seasons in 1 day, lol, anyway, I’m having a lot of trouble with Moss and I just read your recipe on how to make does baking soda solution but I haven’t heard of that type of liquid soap you said, can I just use any liquid soap for that reason? And could I even use dishwashing liquid instead?
    I can’t wait for your reply as I’m up to my shoulders in Moss.
    Thank you kindly, Deon Naylor.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I think any plain liquid soap would be ok but if the surface to be treated is we, you may not need any surfactant. Just sprinkle on the baking soda and let it do its thing. It doesn’t work overnight, but must be left in place, of course.

  50. Fran Mott says:

    (just found this after sending you an e-mail)
    Can baking soda be used for moss on a combination of boston ivy and ajuga ? Both are (and have always been) weak, but I have a whole oak tree woods full of these cove and after 15 years this moss has started invading it…big time. It always looked nich until nthis invasion of moss. I’ve removed what moss I could by hand, but have a whole lot left throughout the ground covers. The moss roots do not stop the snow or water from coning down-hill to my house, so I’m desperate to save these groundcovers.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I don’t know where you are living, but would not recommend wholesale spreading of baking soda in an oak wood. I would instead consider re-imagining the area as a moss garden. Read back up to my original post(s) to see what might work for you.

  51. Mary says:

    My garden is a raised bed made out of bricks. I planted the rows a foot apart because I wanted to be able to plant more this year and my garden bed is not huge. This year there was a lot of rain and the bed had a lot of moss on it when I added manure and tilled it in and then planted it. Can I sprinkle baking soda between the rows without hurting my beets and carrots because there is a lot of moss between the rows because I planted them closer and the plants are shading between the rows causing (I believe) the moss to grow bad this year and I don’t want a lot of bugs to eat my garden. I love your site. Thank you! Mary

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Mary,
      I think I’d gently hoe away the moss and keep improving the soil with compost and aged dairy manure, though it sounds as if the bed might be shaded? If so, that spot might be best for leafy greens. I also would not recommend tilling at all, much less tilling in moss, as the less soil disturbance the better for the soil life.

  52. Sabine says:

    Hi, great to have found an organic solution for removing moss. Ihave a lot of moss on the ground floor between my roses? can I use your baking soda recipe too and it won’t harm the roses?
    Thanks so much

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Roses prefer a slightly acidic soil (around 6.5 pH is best) so you’d want to use a soil test to see what pH your soil offers already. Baking soda is alkaline, helping to bring acidic soils a little closer to neutral, but on natural alkaline soils you’d want to buffer generously with mature compost (usually close to neutral).

  53. Nancy says:

    Whole day spent scraping thick, green lush moss off outdoor carpet that’s been permanently glued to large front concrete front porch stoop w/3 steps. Filled entire shopping bag with the moss debris. Swept up all particles. Do I now just sprinkle baking soda?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Yes, very thickly, replacing several times if washed away by rain. However, it’s unlikely that you can get all the roots out from outdoor carpet; you might try rinsing with bleach first (try a small area first to see if color fades).

  54. James says:

    Hi Ann,

    Great article and thank your for the useful tips. My garden is extremely bad for moss and algae growth as its very shaded and sees little direct sunlight. i have tried baking soda in the past and found that it worked but started using a new product last year called MossOff Chemical-free and found it has lasting results. Its a plant based product that suffocates moss and algae. I try to stay away from chemicals as much as possible and found this product extremely effective. Have you tried it? I found it online https://vivagreengroup.com/product-category/mossoff/.

    Thanks again,

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi James,
      I haven’t tried it, but it sounds interesting; the website says “MossOff is made from natural ingredients derived from crops such as natural oils and starch. MossOff does not chemically destroy the moss but operates by forming a physical barrier preventing moss absorbing the moisture and nutrients from the air causing it to die.” That implies it’s some kind of waterproof coating and I’d wonder if it gets slick or slippery underfoot when wet. I’d love to hear more about your experience!

  55. Laura says:

    I have moss growing on the marble in a cemetery lot that has blue granite coping. Is it safe to use baking soda here and not damage the marble or coping and if so can I just sprinkle it on the moss and stones or should it be diluted.

  56. georgina mcewan says:

    I have lots of moss on pebbles in the garden and also on my rope edging do I just sprinkle over the pebbles and would I need a wire brush for the edging

    Thank You

  57. jan young says:

    have 3 foot high concrete block wall with green/brown moss on top and sides. this spring in some places it is 1/2″ thick…like a carpet. i can scrape it or knock it off with wire brush. will the baking soda work on this??

  58. Jerry says:

    Hi ! I have a question for you and it involves raccoons digging up my yard,I know that they are digging for grubs and I treated it with a grub killer but it did not stop the raccoons from coming back and still digging in the yard ,My question is how to stop them.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      You might try sprinkling clay-based kitty litter soaked in castor oil over the grass; it’s pretty repellent for many pests.

  59. l danielle brown says:

    Hi: Will this baking soda solution possibly kill English Ivy down to the roots? I share a 50 foot chain link fence with neighbors who’ve left their ivy and virginia creeper destroy the trees in their own back yard and mat their ground completely. I spend days every year cutting it back from the fence and trying to uproot all that’s in my yard but it wins.

    I think my neighbors are finally at the point where they’ll let me kill it. I don’t want to use Round Up or anything like that. If they decided to kill it themselves at last they will use a toxic chemical herbicide. They won’t take the time to dig it up. Their yard is literally coated with it. Any suggestions for a responsible way to destroy their ivy utterly?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      No, baking soda will not kill ivy. A deep mulch of 12-18 inches of coarse wood chips (such as hog fuel) will kill of about 80% of established ivy in a season, but the fastest way is to use a sharp shovel to cut ivy mats into strips and roll them up, slicing the roots as you roll. Drag the rolls away, mulch the areas deeply, an be vigilant about pulling any shoots for the next few years. Good luck!

  60. Mary Lynne Peterson says:

    I have a brick patio that has a lot of moss growing on the bricks. Under the bricks are the roots of a VERY LARGE river oak tree. I don’t want to harm the oak tree by killing the moss, but want to remove the moss in an environmentally safe manner. (It would cost thousands to take down the tree if it dies.) I understand the oak is acid loving – especially since most of the trees in the yard are white pines and there are pine needles everywhere. So how do I kill the moss in a manner that won’t harm the tree. I know baking soda is alkaline and there is a lot of moss. Thanks for your help.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I think I would simply power wash and scrub the bricks with a stiff brush every year and not use anything that might harm the tree. Good luck!

  61. Great article and I love the way you took time to answer people’s questions. Have people read this book, “Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer? She’s a great writer to make a book on moss entertaining. Her other book, “Braiding Sweetgrass” is one of my all time favorite books. After reading her book I’m comfortable with moss. But no one likes slippery stepping stones, so glad to find a way to keep my walk ways safe. Thanks!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      yes, Robin Kimmerer is such a beautiful, thoughtful writer! I also love moss but as you say, it has its place….

  62. jeanne basmajian says:

    Hi, I have moss in my flower beds.Mostly sunny areas, I leave in the northeast, delaware county,new york. my beds also have azeleas and rhododendrum and iris growing. Will baking soda work for me. I usually just scrap the moss out.Jeanne

  63. Bob Froelich says:

    I live in Alberta where is generally dry. However, after 30 years the moss built up on my cedar shake roof so much that I had to replace the shakes. But I found that moss had not grow below all galvanized fittings. So with the new shakes I had installed about 2” wide galvanized metal bands running across the roof near the top. This is still working for the whole roof after about 8 years.

  64. Heather says:

    I wonder if used baking soda would work just as well? I’m talking about the expired baking soda in the refrigerator. I always wonder what I can do with it….

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Sure, baking soda, like salt, is pretty much inert; expiration dates are not meaningful. It may lose some bakery lifting power after being open in the fridge but should still be useful on moss.

  65. GW in WA says:

    Such a cool post about moss. Thank you, Ann! I am pressure washing the concrete walk on north facing side of house in Bellevue. First time in 3 years, so it’s pretty thick in places. Strangely, there are little patches of moss that cling particularly hard, so much that the pressure washer is not enough to dislodge them. I am playing with the baking soda to see if it can help keep the walk clear.

  66. Ruth Crowe says:

    Can baking soda be used on moss on rocks in a pond where there are fish? Will the baking soda hurt the fish?

  67. Ruth Crowe says:

    Can using baking soda on rocks to get rid of the moss in a pond hurt fish?

  68. Jaclyn McGuffie says:

    This is so great! OK, I’m going in full force now. I’m fine with moss in my lawn, I kindof like it. But not in my garden….We built a hugelkultur on a south facing slope, in a C shape. I appreciated the sunny side/shady side aspect. Peas and kale etc great great all summer on the shady side. But so did the moss. What I’m seeing is that I should scrape the moss off, sprinkle baking soda and either compost tea or a layer of compost this fall and maybe in the spring. Also controling the moss around the garden bed, we were thinking of using sand around the bed as it is readily available, will suppress weeds, and add some much needed extra warmth. Do you think this will work? Anything else?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I would not add baking soda to the planting bed soil, but instead, work on improving the tilth by gently raking away the moss and mulching with compost. A little dolomite lime would probably help as well, especially if your soil is acidic.

  69. Marcel says:

    Hi Ann,

    I have been using moss removers like Wet & Forget and Patio Magic! I’ll try your more natural remedy. Fingers crossed.

    Many thanks,


  70. Just curious if left untreated can moss spread to sunny area’s?

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  72. Natasha says:

    Would you recommend using baking soda in an area that you want to cultivate into an area with perennials? I have bulbs that I need to plant indoor plants at the moment that are perennials and I would like to extend my flower bed but where I want to extend my flower bed is covered with miss.

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